Hosteling with kids



In the past couple of years as we’ve been preparing for our family world trip, we’ve been trying out bits and pieces of our planned travel style from traveling with backpacks using public transit to, most recently, staying in hostels. We’ve done this to introduce our children to this style of travel (or remind them of it) and to verify to ourselves that it’s possible to travel like this as a family. This past April we did a mini (four-day) road trip in Ireland staying in hostels. From that experience here are four things to remember when planning to hostel with kids.

1. Hosteling With Kids – Yes You Can!
Sure, hosteling may be something you think of as something for young, single, twenty-somethings, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy this experience with children. The first step is to be sure that staying in a hostel is right for you and your children. I know I wouldn’t have attempted this when my kids were younger because they wouldn’t have settled at night-time and hence I wouldn’t have been comfortable or slept a wink. At nine and 14, the shared-room, shared-kitchen environment of a hostel was a novel and fun experience for my boys (I don’t think they realize yet that they’ve got a year of this ahead of them!).

2. Research Family Friendly Hostels
All hostels are not created equal and you need to do your research in advance. Read property reviews – and read in between the lines, if every review talks about the party scene that property may not be a good choice for your family. Many hostels have more room options than the standard single-sex dorm room configuration. Two, three and four-bed rooms are great for families – preferrably with an ensuite bathroom. Look for properties with laundry facilities, reduced lock-out hours and plenty of common space.

3. Hostel Prices Are Right For Families
It’s tough to beat hostel prices even if you’re paying a premium for a “family suite”. Keep in mind that prices are typically per-person, per-night rather than per-room which can mean that the total cost for a family of four may be similar to the room rate at a local three-star hotel. That said, the hostel’s kitchen facilities will help keep your budget in check.


4. Children And The Hostel Community
My kids do chores at home. We may fight over when and how they do them, but there’s a definite requirement that everyone in the household pitches in for regular tasks such as post-dinner clean-up and laundry. If we were staying in a rented house or apartment (as we have many times) I would expect my boys to help out. When we stayed in hostels it wasn’t a big deal for all of us to help keep the shared community and kitchen spaces clean – and the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic aspect of staying in a hostel added an educational dimension to the whole experience.

I’ve used and to research hostel properties. The booking engines on both of these website allow you to specify your room preferences which is a handy way to know if options other than dorm rooms are available. If you have a favorite resource for finding or booking hostel accommodations, do let me know by leaving a comment below.

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About wandermom

". . .life is short and the world is wide" - Simon Raven I'm not sure I've ever consciously planned a trip based on this sentiment, but it definitely influences my subconscious! I've been traveling as frequently and widely as possible since I finished school. And I love it. I love the research, the planning, the fervent packing and the curiosity of exploring somewhere I've never been before. My husband & I are both Irish - as in born-in-Ireland. But we live in Seattle. We have two boys: wild, boisterous, regular boys. So, since becoming a Mom, I've been a WanderMom. Given our slightly-unusual family situation, routine "visits-to-Grandma" are international trips requiring passports, 10hr-flights and (oh joy!) airport transfers. I have rants, raves and opinions about how, where & why to travel with kids (start them as young as you can, I say!). I hope to learn even more by researching topics which other wandermoms may be interested in reading about on this blog. Passports, pacifiers, diapers and gameboys at the ready - off we go! Contact Info: Email Michelle: michelle (at) murphnduff (dot) org

8 thoughts on “Hosteling with kids

  1. Amy @ The Q Family

    Great post! I have been thinking about hosteling with kids when we plan our trip to England in the next couple years. These are great tips to make it work better. I agree that ages of the kids are important and sometimes, the price you save might not be as high as traveling solo.

  2. J. Is a Bird

    Great post about a novel idea.

    While my two are too young (4 & 2) to do this sort of thing, I liked your suggestion about trying out different travel methods ahead of time. Honestly, neither of my two have been on a bus as we live in Los Angeles. A Public Transportation field trip may be in order.


  3. wandermom Post author

    @Amy: Glad I could help with your pre-trip planning :)

    @J: I confess to being a hyper-planner. My kids would be required to memorize + recite their daily schedules (as stored in color-coded excel spreadsheets) to me every morning except they a. have their Dad’s genes and b. their Dad is pathologically opposed to any form of advance planning. Somehow we meet in the middle without killing each other and yes, trying things out in advance has worked out to be a great advance trip planning habit. So yes, go hop on a bus girl!

  4. Emma -

    Really enjoyed your post. I loved my own backpacking days and, with number one due later this year, it’s great to know that they don’t have to be over yet! Thanks.

  5. Nancy D. Brown

    As my daughter launches to college, I can see that hostels met many travel budgets – from young teens and families to foot loose college students.

    Thanks for the tips. What a trip.

  6. aubrey

    Love your blog and your very smart, tangible travel tips. I have 4 kids and I homeschool…we travel a LOT and I’m always looking for cheaper and easier ways to do it. Thanks to you, we are planning our trip to Thailand next spring when my husband comes home from Afganistan. :)

  7. Shauna

    Hi thanks for this post and others!!! I am a mom of a two year old and have taken him to Italy and Amsterdam when he was 20 months. Plan on taking him to Ireland and London next may. I will def be reading all your posts! It’s never too early for travel and adventure :)

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